Last month, I stumbled across the eXile, Moscow’s alternative paper written largely by expats driven by American xenophobia, culture shock, homesickness and the fact that communism tends to turn places into joyless hellholes. What it lacks in journalistic standards — consider their current contest: whoever guesses the date closest to the American invasion of Iraq wins an hour with one of the prostitutes featured on page 23 — it more than makes up for in hilarity that makes you feel slightly guilty for laughing.
Anyone who’s done a little travelling is probably aware that Europeans generally perceive Americans as bloodthirsty, greedy gun nuts who make lousy beer. This is why the Lonely Planet set often do un-American things such as sew Canadian flags on their backpacks and maybe even attempting to learn a few phrases in the local blabber before hiking across Europe.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Europeans hold their neighbours — Europeans other than themselves, that is — in equal, and possibly greater, contempt. While the worst thing the Americans did to most Europeans is flood them with bad food (Spam during the Marshall Plan, McDonald’s today), Europeans have been raping and pillaging each other since the earliest days, when the rivalries were between villages, not nations (this sort of rivalry continues today). I’m surprised that the word “neighbour” doesn’t have a secondary use as an insult in most European languages.
The eXile have done a little research — and I use the term “research” very loosely — and the result is a feature article called 18 Ways to Hate Your Neighbor. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:
Bigotry and hatred are the bread and water of European life. This isn’t a vague, impersonal hatred; rather, it’s a profoundly evolved, carefully tailored hatred, a SMART Hatred if you will, tailored as tightly as a Swiss banker’s shirt towards the village over the hill, where your bosom enemies live.
Through hard and thorough research (ie., by pouring beer into the throats of selected Europeans and letting them rant), the eXile has managed to isolate and map the 18 fundamental hatred genomes that Europeans carry towards their neighbors—the RNA strand of Euro-hatred, if you like.
So put away your Lonely Planet guides, and pick up your Euro-Bigotry primer. It’s because of European hatred that the biggest massacres in human history have taken place. And the wonderful thing is, in spite of all the post-war European talk of peace and understanding, all the bigotries still live on, waiting for the day when they can transform Europeans back from harmless disco-dancing buffoons into the murderous village brawlers they once were, and may someday be again.
I’m just surprised that the increasingly popular Simpsons description of the French, cheese-eating surrender monkeys, doesn’t appear at all.